Agricultural cooperation top CPEC priority
Editor's note: Cheng Xizhong, Visiting Professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law，Senior Fellow of the Charhar Institute, former Defense Attache in South Asian countries. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.
by Cheng Xizhong
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, recently said that as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) entered the second phase, there would be more and more Chinese agricultural technologies flowing into Pakistan.
Objectively speaking, at present, China-Pakistan cooperation in various fields continues to deepen, but agricultural cooperation is still at its initial stage. Therefore, there is a great space and potential for cooperation between China and Pakistan in agricultural science and technology, agricultural product processing, agricultural product trading and agricultural infrastructure construction in the future.
Agriculture is the lifeline of Pakistan's economy. Pakistan is rich in land resources. The cultivated land accounts for about 40% of the total land area. The per capita cultivated land area is twice as much as China. The proportion of young and middle-aged people is large, and the demographic dividend is very prominent. Therefore, Pakistan has many favorable conditions for developing modern agriculture.
However, the yield per unit area of wheat, rice, soybeans and other crops in Pakistan is only about 50% of that in China. The application of improved varieties and the popularization of advanced agricultural technology need to be improved, and agricultural irrigation facilities need to be further developed. The production of major crops needs to develop in the direction of scale, intensification, modernization and information technology.
Addressing the launching ceremony of “Kisan Portal” for the farmers under Pakistan Citizen’s Portal in Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Pakistani farmers have to learn new techniques to boost productivity like China.
In recent years, China-Pakistan cooperation in cultivating rice, corn, soybean, sugarcane and other crops has yielded fruitful results. The demonstration of Chinese modern agricultural technology in Pakistan has enabled the Pakistani people to see the great power of technology to promote agricultural development.
With regard to China-Pakistan agricultural cooperation, I think we can make further efforts from the following aspects:
First, the two sides should fully realize that agricultural cooperation is now the top priority of the second phase of CPEC, which is the largest livelihood project.
Second, both sides should make full use of their excellent germplasm resources to strengthen cooperative research on the cultivation of new varieties such as wheat, rice, oilseeds and sugarcane. The Chinese side can export to the Pakistani side some high-yield varieties such as food crops, cotton, oil-bearing crops and sugarcane suitable for Pakistan.
Third, China and Pakistan may carry out technical exchanges in cultivation technology, pest control, livestock breeding management technology and drought and flood disaster response. At the same time, China should provide assistance to Pakistan in the transformation and construction of agricultural water conservancy facilities, drip irrigation technology and equipment.
Fourth, the two countries should cooperate in the deep processing of agricultural products such as grains, livestock products and vegetables, so as to help Pakistan expand exports of agricultural products. China needs to further increase the scale of grain imports from Pakistan, especially aquatic products, nuts and fruits.